Every week at all the Weekly Business meetings there is an educational slot where a member of each of the groups does a short talk about an aspect of business or life.
Levels of Listening
How many times do we come away from a meeting having expended great amounts of energy trying to explain what we require? How often have we received goods, services, information which was not exactly what we asked for but something that ‘they’ felt was what we wanted. I know this happens to me quite often. I know that if I am honest with myself that I am sure that at some time I have done this to a client.
Why do we do this? Well the answer is that we listen, but do we know how to listen?
In my experience as with many others I find that there are three levels of listening.
Level I – Focused Listening
This is where our attention is on ourselves – we listen to the words of the other person, our client / other half / children but the focus is on what those words mean to us. Can I get business out of this, how can I fit my services / actions to what my client / other half / children want? You find that you are analysing their words and thinking of the next question to ask or opinion to give whilst not fully listening to what they are saying.
This is where we find that although we have explained something to a “salesman” we are told what we want, which is not exactly the thing for which we asked. This is typical of many meetings.
Level II – Dialogue
You are listening to your client and your awareness is totally on the other person and what they are saying. You listen to their words, their expressions and emotions, what frustrates them, what their vision is. At this level you exercise a level of empathy, creativity, clarification, collaboration and innovation. In other words you are aware not only of the words but of desires, problems, or frustrations etc.
At this level you are not looking for solutions until you have fully understood what the client is seeking. Not until you have clarified their needs and wants and have summed up perfectly their requirements do you venture to provide solutions.
This is where I focus my attentions in respect of Weekly Business. Many times when talking to a client about their business and the requirement for H&S other matters come out. By applying Level I listening skills I miss much of the peripheral information because I am concentrating on MY business not the Clients.
Level III – Global Listening
This type of listening goes one step further. Performers develop a strong sense of Level III listening. Stand-up comedians, musician’s actors and good training presenters all have the ability to read the Level III in a room and monitor how it changes to what they do. In fact anyone who is successful at influencing people is skilled at listening to Level III as they have the ability to read the impact they are having and adjust their behaviour accordingly.
So what is Level III listening. It is some times called Environmental Listening as in this mode you notice the temperature, energy levels, the lightness or the darkness. In other words you are using your senses i.e. intuitive.
If we want to help expand our own and our colleagues businesses by gaining more referrals we need to remember the words of Epictetus, an ancient Greek philosopher. If we follow these words we are guaranteed to improve your listening skills: ‘Nature gave us one tongue and two ears so we could hear twice as much as we speak.’